Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk urged Russia on Tuesday not to use natural gas as a “weapon” against his country, and accused Moscow of seizing tens of billions of dollars’ worth of its assets and energy resources in Crimea.
Russian energy giant Gazprom earlier demanded a $1.66 billion pre-payment from Kiev for June gas deliveries, saying Ukraine had only half its requirements in storage to ensure a trouble-free winter. “We are ready for a market-based approach and Russia is to stop using natural gas as another, or a new type of Russian weapon,” Yatseniuk told a news conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels.
“If Russia rejects this, then we (will) bring Russia to court in Stockholm,” Yatseniuk warned.
On the ground zero, the situation remained tense. Six Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a rebel ambush between the insurgent bastions of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in the east of the country on Tuesday, the defence ministry said.
Meanwhile, on diplomatic front, Germany’s foreign minister flew to Ukraine to help start talks between the Ukrainian government and its foes following the declaration of independence by two eastern regions.